I’m excited to introduce today’s Smarty Mom, Talitha McGuinness. She is mom to 4-year-old twins, Caelie and Ella, and is expecting Baby #3 in May – a big Smarty CONGRATULATIONS goes out to her! Talitha is the Race Director for the Race for Fetal Hope taking place today and hopefully we’ll see many of your smiling faces at our CSP booth! Talitha was nominated by her Smarty friend, Traci Zeller. Her introduction was so good that I’m just going to turn it over to her! Here’s Traci:
I’m writing to “mominate” Talitha McGuinness for Smarty MOM of the week. Talitha is seriously the Smartiest MOM I know! Talitha is the wife of Lee and the mom to Caelie and Ella, two of the most adorable identical twin girls that you have ever seen. When Talitha was pregnant with Caelie and Ella, they were diagnosed with TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome). Talitha went to Tampa to have surgery with Dr. Quintero (one of the leading experts in TTTS surgeries), and by the grace of God, Caelie and Ella are happy, healthy little girls. Caelie also suffered from amniotic band syndrome, which required surgery to treat, and she now has a scar on her thigh. Talitha was not content to let things be, however, and began her advocacy for families dealing with TTTS and other fetal distress syndromes. Talitha is on the Board of Directors for the Fetal Hope Foundation (www.fetalhope.org) and is also the race director for the Race for Hope (formerly the TTTS Race for Hope) here in Charlotte. Talitha has made a big difference in people’s lives — not only with her work with the Fetal Hope Foundation and the local race, but also in talking personally to moms who are dealing with a TTTS diagnosis. As if that weren’t enough, Talitha is the Vice President of Marketing and Fund Development for Charlotte Mothers of Multiples (CMOMs). Her marketing and fundraising efforts for CMOMs have been absolutely amazing, and I’m not sure if anyone will ever be able to fill her shoes. I could go on for hours about that, but I’ll turn to some of her other accomplishments. Talitha owns her own business, Carolina Consulting Company, which focuses on public relations, marketing and graphic design. Talitha is extraordinarily talented… and an unbelievable bargain to boot! The service you get from Talitha is easily worth several times what she charges. Among other things, she has designed an advertisement for my interior design firm (Traci Zeller Designs) and also a logo for a non-profit group in Iredell County with which I was volunteering. OK, seriously, as if all of that weren’t enough, I’m not finished! Talitha is also incredibly crafty. She has a small business sewing children’s clothing, and you can often find Caelie and Ella modeling some of Talitha’s creations (see photo). When I helped Talitha to redo Caelie and Ella’s bedroom (you can see photos on my blog — http://tracizeller.com/blog – just look for the post on The Darlings), Talitha sewed practically everything in that room — duvet covers, curtains, pillows, futon cover, etc. — and created matching accessories (lampshade, etc.). Talitha is also super, super stylish herself. She always looks amazing and pulled together no matter when you see her. To cap it off, she’ll readily tell you that she purchased her entire ensemble for practically nothing … making Talitha, in my opinion, the ultimate Bargain Fashionista. To look incredible while spending so little is an incredible talent … and unfortunately one that I do not possess!!! Maybe to be “PC” in these current economic times, I should call Talitha a “recessionista” but truth be told, she has always looked fabulous — for a bargain price — for the couple of years that I have known her.
Now let’s meet Talitha…
Tell us about TTTS and how this changed your life?
There’s nothing like visiting your doctor for a routine ultrasound and learning that you need to see a specialist the following morning for some possible issues. I was only 14 weeks pregnant with my girls and had to hear that they were being fatally affected by TTTS and that I could either terminate the whole pregnancy and start over (after all, they mentioned I was so young!), sacrifice one baby to give the other a fighting chance, or have an experimental in utero surgery that may or may not save either. That kind of news is really hard to swallow for anyone.
What advice do you have for other moms facing this syndrome?
Always seek information and ask as many questions as you think necessary to get the answers you want and need to hear. The Fetal Hope Foundation didn’t exist when we were dealing with our situation, but we have since become some of their biggest cheerleaders. I now know first-hand how we are able to help families around the country, not only with providing accurate information, treatment center recommendations, and family matching, but also by providing travel grants to help the families get to the fetal centers when treatment is necessary.
Tell us about the Race for Fetal Hope today and what you hope to accomplish?
Awareness and fundraising are two of the biggest goals for the Race for Fetal Hope each year. Charlotte was the second host city to come on board with the National Race Series, and we now have 4 host cities throughout the country and will be expanding to possibly 7 cities next year. The Race gives families the perfect opportunity to celebrate their survivors and honor all the babies we have lost to various fetal syndromes. I have met so many families in and around Charlotte who love that they now have a way to connect with other families who have shared similar experiences. When you are dealt the TTTS or any other fetal syndrome card, you feel that your world shrinks and that you are all alone. However, when you attend these events, you feel so connected in this common cause to fight and end fetal distress, and ultimately save our babies’ lives.
Now let’s talk about you as a mom and all of your favorite digs! What is your favorite place to find a deal on clothes?
Ha! I’m known for my bargain shopping and without sharing too many secrets (I consider myself a personal shopper for a few of my close friends!), I love to shop at Ross, TJ Maxx and even Rugged Wearhouse. I probably have over 50 pair of shoes (and matching or coordinating purses to boot!), and not a single pair cost me over $15. I don’t care about brand names, but more about how pieces make me look and feel, and the fact that I get them at such great deals.
What is your favorite family-activity in Charlotte?
My girls are only 4, so we are still big into Monkey Joe’s, Discovery Place and especially Carowinds. With the WOW passes this past year, it was such a steal to buy them and use them several times throughout the summer. We have a blast just spending the day with other twin friends riding the rides and cooling off at the waterpark.
What is your favorite mommy-time activity?
I love to go shopping. Is there anything more relaxing and rewarding than shopping at your leisure without whining, crying or fussing children in the back of your cart?!? However, when money is a bit tighter (like now!), I love to read for me-time. These days, it’s not uncommon to find me in a good book while my husband watches TV (and especially now that football has made me a widow for the next 6+ months!)
Favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
We still don’t do dinner out very much, mainly because our girls can be picky and they’re not the quietest kids on earth (A twin thing? Maybe!). We love to cook at home and especially this time of year when we can enjoy dining outside on our deck. We live in the country, so it’s pretty private and quiet enough to talk about our day and just enjoy a nice meal together.
What is your favorite date-night spot?
Funny enough, I love to go dancing. I don’t get to do it as much these days, but it has always been one of my favorite things to do with my husband. We met in college, so this was something we did almost every weekend! If we get a night out to eat, there are some quaint places in Concord that we enjoy.
What is your favorite lunch spot with your girlfriends?
I love this place in Kannapolis called Forty Six. It’s a swanky little place in Cannon Village where they have some of the best gourmet sandwiches and all natural sweet potato chips that are to die for! I highly recommend it and they have fabulous dinner, too.
Favorite GNO outing?
These are so rare that I’ll take what I can get…dinner, wine bar, etc., etc. However, I recently had a trip to Vegas and I must say that I enjoyed the party and dancing scene with a close pal of mine, Traci Zeller. I was told to show her a good time and I hope I lived up to the expectation!
I’m in need of a birthday cake coming up, what is your favorite bakery in Charlotte?
I use Dawn King (a fellow CMOM friend) with Scrumdilly Cakes for all of my family’s cakes. She once owned her own bakery, but since the birth of her twins, makes cakes out of her home. I have often given her some seemingly challenging designs, but she always pulls it off. The best part is that her cakes are delicious with rates that won’t empty your wallet.
Best birthday party you’ve attended or hosted?
I have to say that my 30th birthday party was pretty cool. I decided instead of gifts and a party to host an entire celebration with a full Silent Auction and everything to benefit the Fetal Hope Foundation. It was so much fun to spend the evening with my closest friends and family, while also raising money for a cause very near and dear to my heart. I had a photographer (Karen Premo) who photographed the evening for me, and I have to say that I will always cherish the memories from that night.
What is the best book you’ve read lately?
I’m a big Lee Smith fan and I just finished her most recent novel, On Agate Hill. I just love how she weaves so many Southern traditions, legends, places and characters together to create a fun, but thought-provoking story. It reminds me so much of my grandmother’s family, as she was one of 12 siblings born and raised through the Depression era. Southern women are really strong characters and I think it’s awesome to see what we as younger generations in the South learn from them.
Funniest thing your children have ever said to you?
Recently we told our girls that we were expecting a baby. At breakfast the following morning, my Ella watched me eating cereal and says “mom, babies can’t eat cereal, only milk!” I had to explain that right now, the baby eats whatever mommy eats, but that she is right in that the baby will only drink milk once it’s born. She proceeds to tell me not to eat squash or ‘ccini because the baby will think that is gross!
What is your favorite CSP blog this far?
I thoroughly enjoyed when Jen P’s husband blogged in her absence. He was hysterical and it was very interesting reading about life with the kids from a dad’s perspective. They do the best they can and God love ’em for it, but they are not and never will be “mom”. (Thank you, Talitha – Randy was pretty pumped when he read this! Smarties, don’t be surprised if you hear from him in the near future…)
Smartiest way you save $?
I coupon for anything possible. I love saving money on things like groceries, because that means I have more to spend on clothes and accessories. It’s not cheap living in a house with three girls…just ask my hubby!
I could not live without my… CMOM friends. They are truly one-of-a-kind ladies. For those unfamiliar with CMOMs, it is a little club with over 500 members in Charlotte who have twins, triplets and more (yeah, we’re the ones who host that awesome Consignment Sale each Spring and Fall!). There is nothing like meeting women who are dealing with the same issues during pregnancy, infancy, toddlerhood and beyond. I feel like I clung to them like a life raft years ago, but they have truly become some of my closest friends in this journey of motherhood.
Thanks, Talitha! We’re proud to support all that you do today at the Race for Fetal Hope! Do you have a Smarty Mom OR Dad, email us here. We’d love to hear from you!